Saturday, July 03, 2010

Piers Akerman, and Wonder Woman puts on her lipstick while the relentless scribbling machine dons his eating smock ...

(Above: Wonder Woman, and for an inspiring insight into WW in comics, try Who needs feminists when we have Denny O'Neil and Mike Sekowsky?)

Just to show we have a lot of spare time on our hands here at the pond, we were watching an obscure film the other day about Eileen Joyce growing up in Tasmania.

Wherever She Goes was one of the few early Australian films to get a release in New York, but after it copped a review in the New York Times, the producers likely limped away grief-stricken from their encounter with the big apple.

Not so Joyce, who carved out a more than respectable career as an international concert pianist and became a favourite in England, right down to doing the music for Brief Encounter. While there are a few wombat moments in the movie as it tracks Joyce's growing interest in music - kangaroos hopping off the verandah, the men in the pub playing two up and chipping in for her musical education - the only thing really worth seeing is the short top and tail featuring Joyce doing her chops on the Grieg Piano Concerto. She shows a vigorous, firm technique, and strong hands.

Well one thing led to another, and it's amazing how much Joyce now exists in the nooks, crannies and margins of the full to overflowing intertubes. There's a collection of Joyce materials at the Callaway Centre here, and even more remarkable, you can access mp3s of her recordings by going here, and typing CALOOO1 into the search box. The interface is clunky, some of the records are warped, and the quality isn't high, but how nice it is to discover Joyce on the tubes.

I have a soft spot for Joyce, having come across her via an old World Record Club LP (thank the lord the young think LP means the Liberal Party or a Les Paul guitar rather than longer playing than a 78). Joyce had a saying, much quoted, that as soon as concert pianists stopped playing, they were forgotten, but happily that's not quite how it's worked out.

Well there are plenty of people around to take a lop at this tall poppy - somehow successful women seem to bring it out the syndrome with extra venom - but a little bit of culture makes a refreshing change from the usual round of the commentariat - and I take the view that anyone interested in the arts in Australia is a cultural warrior, worthy of one of the shrines littering the landscape, more typically dedicated to war and death.

But then we're funny like that at the pond, thinking sometimes it's better to look at the stars above than the mud below. Thank the lord we don't all have to flee to Europe or England as Grainger and Joyce did ...

Speaking of the mud below, guess it's time to look at Akker Dakker in the Daily Terror as he drags out the baseball bat and applies it to Julia Gillard.

Akker Dakker, it will be remembered, in his last outing, excelled himself with his opener to The hair apparent or just a pretender?

Women friends say they knew Julia Gillard would topple Kevin Rudd when she had her hair newly coloured.

Julia, they said, was playing the role made famous by Reese Witherspoon in the hit movie Legally Blonde.

Without giving away too much of the plot, it does hang on a woman’s natural concern for her new perm.

That was last week, though.

Subsequently the women’s magazines and Sunday lifestyle sections are still making much of the new Prime Minister’s sense of fashion (or lack of it) and sending packs of reporters to the Victorian fruit-packing town of Shepparton to research the background of First Bloke Tim Mathieson.

The outrageous claim of women friends followed by bitching about new perms was top notch Akker Dakker. Totally blonde.

But that was last Thursday and the restless perfectionism of Akker Dakker has seen him try to top himself, as always in quest of the perfect bon mot, in A Taxing Question:

The federal Labor Party is hoping that its strategy of change the leader, change the game, will appeal to the voting public and new Prime Minister Julia Gillard is certainly going at it with gusto.

Wonder Woman is not in it as Ms Gillard flies from resolving the mining-tax dispute to stemming the flow of illegal people smugglers’ boats and addressing climate change.

It turns out however, further down in Akker Dakker's rant, that Wonder Woman is actually in the game, and is a handy way to deliver a little sneering condescension at the notion of a female pretending to be a super hero:

Before permitting Wonder Woman to zoom off to resolve the next crisis, we need to see Treasury’s books on its mining solution to verify the claims being made. The ready acceptance of the big three miners, BHP, Xstrata and Rio, of the new package is enough to make the most forgiving punter suspicious and such suspicion will hurt Labor.

Sometimes we suffer pangs of guilt at the pond.

It seems needlessly cruel to use nicknames and to send up the commentariat in the manner of playground teases. You know, calling Gerard Henderson prattling Polonius. Joking about Miranda the Devine. Calling Janet Albrechtsen Dame Slap. Juvenile, childish, wretched, reprobate-ish.

And then we remember where we picked up the habit. By reading Wonder Men like Akker Dakker, for a long time known hereabouts as the fat owl of the remove. Yaroop, garooah, and to hell with an adult conversation when childish abuse and vituperative slagging off is all the go.

Gillard probably got off light from a man who still likes to talk about Africa as the dark continent.

Hey ho, on we go. Akker Dakker is such a cunning opportunist that he leaves no stone unturned if he can dig it up and throw it at anyone on the left of him. Seeing most of the universe is on the left of him, he has plenty of targets.

But what on earth to make of this?

Though the plotters who unseated Mr Rudd acted with enormous efficiency, there remains within many deeply committed Labor voters the view Mr Rudd, a first-term PM, should have been permitted to lead the party to the next election and not be struck down by his own for factional ends.

Phillip Adams, a multi-millionaire former advertising chief and supporter of the fashionable Paddington Left, wrote yesterday that he had resigned from the ALP after 50 years over Mr Rudd’s assassination.

That's right, Akker Dakker manages to quote Adams with some kind of perverse approval and satisfaction, while at the same time dismissing him as a supporter of the fashionable Paddington left.

Spare me days. All that effort by Adams to establish himself as a member of the upper Hunter squattocracy at Elmswood farm has been entirely wasted. And he's been doing it since 1986 0n 10,000 acres, what with the certified A-grade biodynamic extra virgin olive oil, and the Italian Purple glamour garlic, and the Virgo Olive Oil soap, with Elmswood honey, not to mention Elmswood beef. (A Place in the Country).

Trust Akker Dakker to get even his abuse wrong. Adams isn't Paddington left, he's Malcolm Fraser doing a Nareen. And they both like to resign from their chosen parties.

But of course Akker Dakker is only interested in stirring the pot. It seems that Adams' resignation is a sign that there's turmoil in the ranks:

In what was undoubtedly a rare moment, Adams may have been in tune with other rank-and-file ALP members. Those running with the polling may not have counted on the dissatisfaction their dumping of Mr Rudd has caused, anymore than they factored in the anger at the increase in the tobacco excise.

Never mind that Akker Dakker has spent years scribbling that the former Chairman Rudd was a disaster for the country, and that he should leave, and the sooner the better, before he damaged it irreparably. At any other time and in any other context, he'd be dancing on the grave of the departed Rudd, but reading his scribbles you almost feel he'd have liked the first term PM to keep running the country and ruin it a little bit more.

Yep, Akker Dakker is a fervent supporter of the theory The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Akker Dakker and Phillip Adams united in matters of grave concern, like the dumping of the Ruddster and the increase in the tobacco excise. There's not enough smoking in this country, and an early parade to the grave with lung cancer!

The mind boggles ...

Still, Akker Dakker is generous, and he allows Gillard a minute in the sun. Just a minute:

There is a risk to running a presidential campaign such the Kevin 07 that was used to tip Mr Rudd into the Lodge, and while Ms Gillard is still the woman of the minute, her role as deputy prime minister and acting prime minister on 27 occasions for 185 days, or 21 per cent, of the Rudd prime ministership cannot be ignored.

She is part of Labor’s baggage and will remain as much a part of Labor’s baggage as her wasteful $16.2 billion BER scheme no matter how much lipstick is applied to the ALP in an attempt to give it a new face.

Hah! How long before the lipstick routine came out? As always the expert, Akker Dakker saved his best for the very last par.

Does Akker Dakker understand that he's sounding like Barack Obama? Is there a deep leftist streak somewhere in his body, since he's now running to hound with Phillip Adams?

"John McCain says he's about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is, 'Watch out George Bush -- except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics -- we're really going to shake things up in Washington,'" he said.

"That's not change. That's just calling something the same thing something different. You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. You know you can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, it's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough of the same old thing." (here).

At the time Obama dropped his remark, the Republicans were horrified, and demanded he apologise for his outrageous, disrespectful and offensive attack on Sarah Palin. Somehow they managed to confuse Palin with policy.

Of course Akker Dakker has an easy out. He didn't use the term pig, he referred to lipstick on the ALP, and as anyone knows that's like trying to put lipstick on the spawn of Satan. Or perhaps a succubus.

Speaking of lipstick, that also reminds me of Julia Baird's pain at the treatment of women in the media:

Joan Kirner was a fat whinger, Cheryl Kernot was a self-obsessed whore, Meg Lees was an aging headmistress with the personality of a laxative. Natasha Scott Despoja was a vapid yuppie princess. Carmen Lawrence was a murderer. Amanda Vanstone was the charge nurse from hell. Bronwyn Bishop was a Rottweiler with lipstick. If you believed the insults flung by their detractors, aired in the press, you’d think female politicians were a pitiful, possibly evil bunch. How did they become such caricatures? (Media Tarts, and this pdf of Talina Drabsch's Women, Parliament and the Media).

Clearly when it comes to answering such a simple question, she's not Wonder Woman ... or she didn't make Akker Dakker a daily part of her newspaper diet.

Never mind, reading Akker Dakker always reminds me of Homer Simpson in that all you can eat fish restaurant:

Waiter: That man ate all our shrimp! And two plastic lobsters!
Cap’n: ‘Tis no man…’tis a remorseless eatin’ machine. Arrrr!

Ah, Akker Dakker, 'tis no man, 'tis a remorseless, relentless anti-left scribbling machine. Arrr!
Or perhaps this is a more apt quote from the same Conan O'Brien episode ...

Homer: I’m gonna fight this thing!
Marge: Oh, please don’t…for me?
Homer: Sorry, Marge…This is my quest. I’m like that guy. That Spanish guy. You know, he fought the windmill?
Marge: Don Quixote?
Homer: No, that’s not it. What’s-his-name, the Man of La Mancha.
Marge: Don Quixote.
Homer: No!
Marge: I really think that was the character’s name: Don Quixote.
Homer: Fine! I’ll look it up!
Marge: Well, who was it?
Homer: Nevermind.

Arrr, Akker Dakker and his windmills.

(Below: all you can eat as fuel for all you can scribble).

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